In 2020, small business owners and entrepreneurs simultaneously faced a public health, economic, and management crisis. But through it all, many persevered. They found solutions and adapted to not just survive, but thrive. Now they are looking ahead to the future of their business, and the help they need from strategic advisors.
In our 2021 State of Small Business Report, we surveyed over 280 small business owners across 27 industries. More than half of respondents said they want expert help in their forecasting and planning for the future.
Budgeting vs. Forecasting: What’s the difference?
If you’re an accountant, you are probably familiar with budgeting, and may even use the budgeting feature within your accounting software. A question we get asked a lot by accountants who are beginning Strategic Advising services is, “I do budgeting already. What’s the difference between a budget and a financial forecast?”
The answer is fairly straightforward, but also intriguing, in that it has a lot to do with the real value of advisory services: helping your customers survive and thrive. By looking at the key differences between a budget and a forecast in this infographic, we can start to understand why financial forecasting is important to your advisory services, and how you can use one to build a roadmap for your small business clients.
That last distinction is perhaps the most important: budgets are tactical and help manage expenses and set limits, while forecasts are strategic and help businesses grow through long-term decision-making and management.
If your clients are asking for help with budgeting, they may not appreciate the difference between an operational budget and a strategic forecast for long-term growth. Use that as an opportunity to flex your advisory muscles and teach them the difference.
Why Forecasting Makes the Best Advisory Service
When small business owners are stressed from financial uncertainty they need information from their accountant that will help them from feeling blindsided by unknowns, and enable them to forge a clear path forward.
A strong financial forecast is at the heart of any successful Strategic Advising relationship. Many people assume that reporting is the most important, but the forecast provides the roadmap, and therefore the basis for advisory services.
By comparing the forecast to the accounting actuals, and understanding the variance, you can help your clients identify problems in their business, which is what productive advisory services and strategic forecasting are all about.
This type of work is perfect for a strategic advising practice. But even if you don’t offer advisory services now, you can get started with financial forecasting as a service for clients, especially during uncertain times.
Transform the Way you Price, Market, Sell and Deliver Your Services
If you’re an accountant and/or an advisor, training and resources are available to guide your small business clients in more strategic ways. To help your clients understand their opportunities and limitations, to react quickly and with confidence. That’s why we built the LivePlan Method.
The LivePlan Method has transformed the way accountants and advisors think about small business advisory services. It’s a scalable system for delivering immense value in a profitable way, every month.
You can learn the LivePlan Method for Strategic Advising in a couple of different ways. You can complete self-paced training and get everything you need to build a scalable, efficient, and profitable client advisory practice. Or you can join our Strategic Advisory Summer Bootcamp, a 4-day virtual event with 15 CPE credits, and learn alongside your industry peers.
This year’s Bootcamp theme is “Forecasting Your Clients’ Success.” You’ll learn how to build and manage financial forecasts to help your clients gain insights and manage their businesses with confidence. And it will make you a financial forecasting expert!
Space is limited, so claim your spot today! Plus, if you register before June 1, you’ll get our Early Bird pricing. Click here to learn more »